Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

Sign up for our twice-weekly newsletter!

Wine bar on 2200 Penn opens doors
By Ella Mitchell, Contributing News Editor • June 14, 2024

Colleen Murphy: Rowing my own boat

Courtesy of Samuel Klein
Courtesy of Samuel Klein

Media Credit: Courtesy of Samuel Klein

Each year, graduating editors are given 30 final column inches – “30” was historically used to signify the end of a story – to reflect on their time at The Hatchet, published in the final issues of the year.

When I found myself with too much time on my hands as a freshman, I applied for a cashier job at Whole Foods.

A bout of mono kept me from taking the job, and four years later, I’m pretty sure that turned out for the best. Once I recovered, I turned to The Hatchet to fill my free time (and get me off the Vern). But reporting occasional stories about crotchety neighbors and the University Police Department wasn’t enough – I wanted more.

When Cory and Ferris hired me in the spring of my freshman year, suddenly I was folded into a zany, brilliant group of people who made each other cry laughing, told wild stories from their weekend escapades and spun in circles in broken office chairs through the first floor of 2140 G St. And before too long, I started to make my own memories there too.

I still remember when Justin and Jenna gathered groups of freshmen staffers to shepherd us to parties, when Priya applauded my first front-page story at an all-staff meeting, when Frank Ocean’s Forrest Gump could make us all burst into song and when I made up excuses to work late in Cory’s office.

But as I look back on my time at The Hatchet, not all of the memories are happy ones. And when you combine the responsibility of each of our jobs with the expectations of our predecessors, sometimes the pressure can feel nearly crushing.

Being editor in chief this year tested my mettle on a weekly basis, and I dealt with challenges that I could have never expected. But the hardest part was never the relentless deadlines, nearly constant editing or occasional staff mayhem. The hardest part was accepting that there are so many parts of The Hatchet that I cannot control.

I learned early on I could not force my editors to always meet deadline or line edit to my exacting standards. I could not conjure a $2 million naming gift out of thin air for our townhouse. I could not save print journalism.

So whenever things seemed impossible, I leaned on the biggest lesson I’ve learned over the past four years at The Hatchet: I can’t control everything, so I must row my own boat.

And each time I questioned whether I could do it – whether I could stand to edit another story, respond to another email, hear another staffer say they were overworked or sit through another Board of Directors meeting – I realized I didn’t really have a choice.

I kept rowing because I didn’t want to fail. I kept rowing because I had already come this far. I kept rowing because a thriving independent paper is essential to hold GW accountable. I kept rowing because my staff was counting on me.

Last spring, I watched my closest Hatchet friends graduate. And even though at times it felt like I had been left behind, I realized I had an important job to do: show a new generation of Hatchet staffers how to row their own boats and withstand even the most forceful deluge.

My four years at The Hatchet have taught me that I’m more resilient and nimble than I realized and that all problems can be solved in time. Most of all, I’ve learned that the people here are what matters at the end of the day. It’s hard to sum up what my friends on The Hatchet mean to me. But like with everything else on this newspaper, all I can do is give it my best shot.

Media Credit: Courtesy of Samuel Klein

Vol. 112: My biggest fear when I got this job was that I would become an island, constantly staring at a Google Doc. But instead of feeling alone, I’ve become better friends with all of you and we’ve made wild memories together. Thank you for picking me, putting up with my staff meeting assignments and fundraising pitches and begrudgingly joining me in human pyramids. I love you all equally, like every good mother should.

Vol. 113: Watching you dive into your roles this spring has been inspiring and invigorating. You will all shine next year, like you have already. I hope your time at The Hatchet challenges you, drives you and brings you joy. It’s a lot of work, but I promise it’s worth it.

CoRY and Ferris: Everything I know about journalism, I learned from watching both of you. I hope I’ve made you proud. CoRY: Many graduating seniors have written about your prowess as an editor, your endless enthusiasm driving them ever forward. Of course, that is true for me too. But I’ve valued your friendship most of all. Thank you for going to concerts with me when I was a sophomore and putting in the time to edit my heinous reviews of said concerts. If you ever decide to follow Professor Shanahan’s advice and marry me, I’d probably say yes. Ferris: I pitch stories to news editors like you used to: a long string of nouns and a flurry of sources to contact. Working with you shaped me as a journalist, and watching you manage the news team prepared me for this job. Thank you for at least pretending to listen when I pitched a story about motherhood rooms.

Gabe and Lyndsey: We never crossed paths during our years on The Hatchet, but you have both had a tremendous impact on me this year. The relationship between Hatchet alumni and the current editor in chief can be fraught, but you are both unfailingly generous and compassionate. Gabe: I am so thankful to have worked with you on the Board this year. No matter how bad things got and no matter how many meetings or calls we sat through, your energy helped me remember I was never in it alone. Lyndsey: You spent hours talking me through my job search and your guidance was invaluable. Thank you for always making time for me. I won’t bring business cards to pass out, but I hope you do still have that party.

Jenna: You always reminded me that The Hatchet is, at its core, supposed to be fun. Your lighthearted spirit made you an indispensable member of staff, and I’ve missed you the last two years. Your legacy is hard to live up to, but I’ve tried to carry on your wildest Hot Seat questions. Thanks for giving me that design test as a freshman.

Justin: No matter what, I will always be thankful for your friendship. You made GW feel like home for me, and I have never felt cooler than when you invited me to hang out with you and Jenna during my sophomore year. From spending late nights in Gelman Library, dressing up as Greek life members and eating copious amounts of Stoney’s sandwiches, you made everything fun.

Robin: I still remember meeting you at that first Vol. 111 potluck, and I always hoped we would be friends. I don’t really remember when that happened – sometime after you lent me that digital media book – but I’m happy it did. You’re incredibly compassionate, and you always felt more like a sister than a roommate or coworker. I learned a lot from being your friend. I’ve missed you this year.

Mel: I would never have made it through my first semester as a news editor (or through medieval Spanish literature) without you in the trenches with me. You always kept me full of snacks, caffeine and the latest gossip. Remember when you hated me last year? I’m glad you got over it just in time to graduate. I hope some day we can be coworkers for a third time.

Chloé: You probably won’t read this, but if you do: I would have gone crazy last year without our walks after nearly every staff meeting. Even though I was terrified when you brought me a massive binder of financial documents two years ago, I hope I took good care of the beats you knew so well. My favorite stories from last year were always the result of the time we’d spend riffing in Google Docs and writing headlines in all caps. I hope our paths cross on a racquetball court again some time.

Brianna: When you were editor in chief, you always made me feel like you cared about me more than you cared about my content, which is a perspective I appreciated and tried to emulate this year. I’m glad I was always the only one who reliably went to your office hours as a freshman – you welcomed me into The Hatchet and made me feel so cool. I will interview pajama-clad, scandal-ridden hotdog vendors with you anytime, anywhere.

Avery: I feel really lucky to have been your editor on two separate occasions. This spring, you energized our news team and jumped right into your job with so much poise, it felt like you had been doing it for years. You’re also one of the funniest people on staff, which is a quality that is always needed. Make sure the news team stays weird and fun next year.

Andrew: You’re probably the best writer I’ve seen in my time on The Hatchet, and that’s really saying something. You have written so many complicated, meaningful stories in your short time on staff. I can’t wait to see everything you accomplish next year.

Robin E.: I don’t think I have a single group photo from a party this year that doesn’t feature you peeking over someone’s shoulder or sorority squatting in the front row. That’s how I’ll always remember you on The Hatchet: eager to be right in the thick of things. It’s been so exciting to watch you grow this year. Keep sourcing UPD officers and get some sleep (outside of the newsroom) next year. And yes, I’ll always respond to your text messages.

Lillianna: Remember when I told you I’d hunt you down if you wrote “best practices” in a story again? That threat still remains. You tackled some of the most confusing beats this year and wrote some of the most interesting stories along the way. And no matter what else was going on, you always came through for us week after week – I’ll always be grateful for that.

Tyler: You took on the role of design editor without really knowing what it entailed, and you never resented me for throwing you in the deep end or adding rogue W’s to that front-page story. Through it all, you’ve been unfailingly patient: You never killed Brandon or me no matter how noisy we were while checking pages, and you must be nearly a saint now that you’ve spent the semester training with Zach. Not many people ask how they can stay involved (and really mean it) while they’re in the process of quitting, but you’re so dedicated to The Hatchet that it didn’t really surprise me. You’ll be one of the most important members of staff next year, and I know you’re ready for it.

Emily and Anna: You are creative powerhouses and it has been a joy to watch you blossom on staff this year. Thank you for making our pages more colorful every week. Take good care of Zach and Yonah (you may know him as Yonitie).

Grace K.: I didn’t expect our paths to cross again after freshman year, but I’m really glad they did. Luckily, this time it was in less of a shitty situation. When I hired you last spring, I wasn’t sure if you would be able to put up with all of our craziness, but you kept Brandon calm(ish) and your kindness and sincerity were contagious. Send me a postcard from India.

Melissa S.: You have some loud, Libertarian shoes to fill next year, but don’t worry. You’ll make your mark as copy chief in no time, just like you did this year. Thank you for never making too much fun of my caption writing.

Melissa H.: When you started leading Editorial Board meetings two weeks ago, I watched a little nervously at first, but realized right away that you were ready for the challenge. You are a ray of sunshine and you could always cheer me up, even at 9 p.m. on a Tuesday night. Watching you improve every week this year has been one of the best parts of my job. I’m already really proud of you, and I know you’re just getting started. Give ‘em hell.

To the Editorial Board: I started writing this message to you immediately after your Student Association endorsement hearings in March. I left the townhouse bursting with pride at your thoughtful analysis, careful research and unending spitfire. You are all brilliant, passionate and wildly funny. I’ll miss ed board meetings most of all.

Blair, Deepa and Halley: Thank you for all of your energy this year. I hope you push staff to think of more ambitious ways to work together next year – I know you have the creativity to make it happen. Sarah: Not many people would pick up more responsibility on top of graduate-level classes and a full-time job, but I’ve always been glad you did. It’s been a treat work with you.

Grace G.: I’ve loved watching you find your place on staff this year. From the first time I saw you tweet about Carol, Rihanna, Broad City and the Obamas with reckless abandon, I knew you would fit right in among us loud mouths. You’ll be a vital member of ed board next year, and I hope you’re never afraid to speak your mind. I think you’ll find that the more time you spend on staff, the more you trust your own convictions – at least, that was true for me.

Regina: You have great stories, a can-do attitude and a willingness to try anything once. That’s a combination that will serve you in everything you do, inside or outside of the townhouse. Thank you for going on dates for the sake of a cool culture page.

Mark: You’re better than any prom date I had in high school, and we haven’t even planned our savage/color-coordinated outfits yet. I would say it’s been fun being your editor this year, but you never really needed editing, so mostly it’s just been fun being your friend. (And getting to be friends with you was really my main goal all along). If you pass Native American history, you will owe me forever. I hope you can live with that.

Devon: You took a job nobody wanted at perhaps the worst possible time, and you’ve impressed us all with your grit and your guts. I will always be grateful to you, though I will never miss talking about accounts receivable. You’re welcome for all the times I stress cleaned the apartment. Tyler, Dayna, Andrew and Team Business: The Hatchet needs you more than you know. Keep rowing your boats.

Dan: You’re the best nephew I’ve ever had. I’ve been impressed with your talent since I first met you last year, and I can’t wait to see where you take the photo section. Thank you for putting up with Zach’s constant ribbing and for never complaining when you have to come back to tone photos. I’ll be sure to always keep a $5 bill and some oranges in my pocket just for you.

Katie: I’ve been so impressed watching you work with your photographers this year, and your energy and passion shows in their progress. Thank you for making sure we never missed breaking news. I’m sorry I mauled you at Hatchet Holiday…sort of.

Desiree: You’re one of the only staff members who also worked in 2140 G St., and it’s always reassured me that I’m not the only one who remembers the old days. Your caring spirit and boundless energy make you the ideal leader and coworker. You steered many visuals meetings off a cliff, and our best front pages were the result of your ingenuity. I can’t wait to invite myself to see you in New York next year.

Ryan: I’m really glad I never let you quit, despite the fact you asked several times. You’ve been one of the biggest parts of my Hatchet experience, and I’ve missed you so much this semester. I loved every minute of being your editor, and passing my beats on to someone who was so passionate made me feel like I had done something right. I can’t wait to see what you and Ellie accomplish next year, but know that I’m already proud of you. I’ll always be around to cook you dinner when you need it. Be safe in Paris. Love, Mom.

Victoria: Hiring you for Team Culture was probably one of the best ideas I’ve ever had. Staff hasn’t been the same without you this spring, and I know you’ll be a rockstar in your role next year. Make The Hatchet’s Twitter account fun, though I know that won’t be a problem for you. I hope you’ll still tweet at me even when I’ve graduated and am irrelevant.

Jeanine: I’ve always admired your confidence – you know who you are and you know what you want. Thank you for always pushing me to try new things, like Jell-O shots. I’m really proud of what you’ve done on The Hatchet, but I’m most proud of how you weren’t afraid to try something else when you realized your job was no longer serving you. You’re a true-blue friend and I feel really lucky to know you. I can’t wait to hang out now that we both have more time to drink beers and read books.

Eva: Even though planning staff social events may cause you to lose sleep, remember that every ounce of effort you put into this job will come back to you tenfold. You care about each member of staff so deeply, and I promise all the emails will be worth it. I’m glad you never gave up on The Hatchet.

Brandon/Ghent: You’re the most loyal farmhand a girl could ask for. We’ve come a long way since I was your editor two years ago and you wrote stories about bystander intervention. Thank you for sticking by me and always being my friend. This year, you were never afraid to take on extra work, which is a quality I always admire. Thank you for drawing last-minute cartoons, laying out pages of the paper and sending novels to ed board each week. It has been truly a joy to watch you grow up here, and I am so proud of you. I’d like to think I had a little part in your success, but I don’t think it’s true: you’ve had it coming for you all along. I wish you a lifetime of Game of Thrones episodes and white cargo shorts. Since we will be coworkers again in our post-graduate lives, this isn’t really goodbye. See you at the company picnic.

Nora: The most exciting part of taking Japanese Foreign Policy last semester was realizing you were in my class and we could be friends. I’d feel sort of lame admitting that if it wasn’t the same reason you always offered to cook me elaborate lunches last year. I have had so much fun working with you this year, which I know was really your endgame all along. You’re a kickass editor and your sheer talent motivates everyone around you. I think it’s time we actually compile our imagined list of cats that look like a certain former GW men’s basketball player. (Remember when you thought I was Evelyn Gardner?)

Sam/Pope LaFrances: Walking home with you after prodo will probably be one of the only parts of Sunday production days that I’ll actually miss. Checking pages has certainly aged us over the course of this year, but that just means you’re one step closer to your dream of being a skeleton. You’re one of the funniest, most caring people I know and I’m happy we became friends this year. Thank you for stepping up when we needed you most and never backing down when I suggested a bad idea for the front page. I promise to never tweet about fundraising again if you never tweet about (TW) Trypophobia.

Sarah: You said everything in your 30 that I had been planning to say about you. It has been an honor to be your editor this year, but it has been an even greater pleasure to be your friend. Even when we had to kill a column at 4 p.m. on a Sunday, your friendship made everything better. You left a note at nearly the top of all your drafts saying you “weren’t sure” how you felt about them, but you’re a beautiful writer and a truly gifted editor. You’ve created such nuanced content this year, and your staff editorials are among my very favorite pieces of the year. I am so proud of you. LYLAS.

Jacqueline: Remember when the townhouse wifi broke, Zach deleted the website, a homeless man stalked our townhouse, the provost resigned and then there was that classic mixup at 9 p.m. on a Sunday? I gave you the most demanding job on the newspaper this year, and I don’t remember ever asking you if you wanted to do it. I always knew you could deal with anything that came our way – or at least to send me photos of tiny puppies and ponies while I figured it out. One more time for posterity, watch this.

Zach: Zach buddy, we’ve been up shit creek so many times this year, but I wasn’t kidding when I told you that as long as you were there, I knew everything would be OK. You’re one of the most loyal people I know, and I feel so lucky to have had you by my side this year. Thank you for taking the Vex to come pat my head during CI Guide prodo, single handedly ensuring every member of staff made it home safe after parties and letting me vent at about 2 p.m. every Sunday. I can’t wait to hang out with you now that we never have to talk about The Hatchet. I promise to come visit you no matter what apartment you pick.

Rachel: Even though we almost collapsed the day of the fall conference, I wouldn’t have wanted to fight with Events & Venues over a table with anybody else. Your friendship has been the best thing to come out of this year for me, and I’m so happy that it happened after three years of circling each other in various SMPA classes. You are one of the most compassionate and generous people I know, and I feel very #blessed to be your wife. I’m excited for future Sundays spent in parks and farmer’s markets.

Ellie: I have tried and failed to write this note to you dozens of times. It’s impossible to sum up how much I enjoyed taking yoga classes with you, getting milkshakes at 10 p.m., cooking you dinner and being your editor and friend. Staff members often make fun of us because we seem like the same person, right down to the Converse and Gap v-necks. It has always been an honor to be compared to someone with your wit, intelligence and kindness. I know you’ll handle the next year with unflappable grace, just like you handle everything else. I am so, so proud of you already. Your fried rice is safe with me.

Sam: Remember when I told you to take Blair to prom two years ago? I had no idea then that we’d wind up here now, but I’m glad we’ve been a team through all of it. You always said you knew what you were getting into when I became editor in chief, but you’ve supported me through so many unexpected challenges this year that I don’t know how that could be true. You’re the biggest gift from my time at The Hatchet. It’s been a good ride so far, but I’m most excited about what’s to come for us. Let’s split a subscription to the Sunday New York Times. I love you.

Nora, Erin, Martha, Natalie and Sarah: From volleyball practice to Egyptian Ratscrew to choir tour to Oklahoma rehearsal to all the wine nights and reunions since then, you girls have been there through it all. We’ve come a long way since high school, but our friendships haven’t changed, and they’re still the bonds I cherish the most. I can’t wait to hear about all the wild developments in your lives as we set off on our next adventures. I know Mary is watching over us…and I know we’ve made her proud.

Mom and Dad: None of this would have been possible without you. Thank you for everything. I love you.


More to Discover
Donate to The GW Hatchet